Picture Book

I haven’t slept much the past few nights.

My mind and emotions about work are all over the map, and I end up laying awake churning through it all.  Panic, confusion, despair, anger, fear, sadness, hurt, resignation…it all spins around inside my head and heart and I can’t settle it enough to get much rest.

It’s very draining.

And it’s the weekend, so it’s not like I can do anything practical about any of it, anyway.  None of what’s spinning inside me is real yet – it’s all just hypothetical scenarios running through my exhausted brain and making it all feel more desperate than ever.  Tomorrow is Monday, so it’ll all become real then.  But for now, it’s completely out of control.

Well, almost completely.

I’ve been trying to keep busy while I’m awake. It’s easier to distract myself  with actual activities.  I still spend more time than I’d like to in tears, but when I actually manage to focus on something else, it’s easier to maintain that focus for longer than I can when I am trying to sleep.

Yesterday I wrote the first draft of a potential picture book for kiddos.  I had a ridiculous amount of fun doing it, and spent some time afterward still trying to think in rhythm and rhyme.  At one point I reminded myself of that scene in The Princess Bride.  You know the one.

“No more rhymes, now, I mean it!”

“Anybody want a peanut?”

Classic.

Anyway, the point is, writing took my mind off my current situation, and the fact that it was fun made it even better.  I was remembering a poetry unit I helped teach a grade 8 class when I was practice teaching back in school.  I got to do haiku with them, and some of the kids decided we should try to have whole conversations in haiku, and it was hilarious! They got really good at it, too.  So last night, by the time I was getting dinner for the fur babies, I was thinking in rhyme and reading the draft of the book to them (mostly Brody, but Piper got draft #2 read to her a few times already today), and I was smiling instead of crying.  The feeling didn’t last, of course, but it definitely helped.

Now I’ve been awake since 4am, but I’ve walked Brody a couple of times, had something to eat, and completed the book’s second draft.  I liked it last night, and love how it’s coming together today.  I got the rhyme pattern worked out, and established the number of syllables per line.  I feel like there are still a couple of more awkward-sounding spots – lines that don’t flow as smoothly as I’d like – but overall I am quite pleased with how well it’s coming together.

My initial plan for the book’s structure was a bit different, and even as I was assembling it last night I wasn’t sure which way I’d go with it, but a lot of it pretty much wrote itself, so I’ve decided not to mess with that.  Plus, it’s fun to read out loud.  I just have to tweak it a bit more to get it to flow better.  But I already have some picture ideas in my head and I feel like, all things considered, it’s coming along very well, and has provided an unexpected and wonderful distraction for my otherwise anxious mind!

 

Sometimes It’s The Little Things

I’m going to try a little real-time blogging tonight.  By that I mean kind of free-form.  Unplanned.  I thought I knew what I wanted to talk about this morning.  Then something happened that basically took over and was all I could think about.

Now, though, I’m watching the season premiere of Face Off, the competition show about make-up effects.  I freaking love this show.  I’ve been watching since the first episode of the first season, and have been in love with it ever since.  Yes, it’s a reality show, but I guarantee you it’s unlike any other reality show you’ve ever seen.  I can’t get enough.

And despite how upset and disheartened and resigned I was feeling when I walked in the door this evening, this show made me feel better, and now IT is all I’m thinking about.  Everyone is so talented and creative, and they support one another, even as they are technically in competition with each other.  I sit on my couch eating Spitz sunflower seeds and watching these incredible artists create whole characters from scratch, in awe because I don’t have as much talent in my fingernail that any one of those people have on their worst day.

Wait – does that even make sense?

They are crazy talented, in ways that I am not.

What’s more is that they all respect and admire one another’s mad skills, too.  It’s like a big talented, creative love-in, every week.  They group hug the person who gets sent home.  They congratulate the winners.  The judges and mentors are all insanely talented, as well, and even as people get sent home, they learn a crap-ton each moment that they’re there.  And I love that the models are game for pretty much anything week to week.

In addition, host Mckenzie Westmore somehow gets better looking every year.  She’s also super personable and relatable.  She our gateway to the show, and is the tie between the contestants and the judges, in a way.  Mckenzie is the glue.  The glue of Face Off.  Haha

When I got home tonight, I’d wanted to talk about respect, and how I don’t understand how to earn it.  Or that I don’t understand why my opinion isn’t valued in a way I feel it should be.  How there can be so much disconnect between my concept of reality, and the actual world.

Or at least my little corner of it.

I’m pretty ready to give up on a particular part of my corner.  I’ll start from scratch again, maybe.

In the meantime,though, I’m fully inspired by the crazy talent being displayed on my TV screen right now.

And tonight, that’s all I need to face tomorrow.

Just Write

write
Yes, I still write with a pen sometimes, and yes, I took this on my phone just now

Today I submitted a proposal to adapt one of my unpublished novels into a television series. It wasn’t done with the intention of getting anywhere with it, but rather for the experience of writing a proposal, and eventually learning to craft a pitch. There are some similarities between pitching a novel to a literary agent and pitching a TV series, but there are many more differences, and I wanted to get a little experience in both, if I could. I try to take the opportunities to learn as they come, at least when it’s something that interests me, and generally, I like to learn.

See, I am a pretty terrible writer. Average at best, and that’s being generous. I feel like things have gotten worse in recent years, but it’s possible I am just more aware of my inadequacies, which is fine, too, because it means I’m still learning. I learned a LOT during my few forrays into the world of ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award), but since it’s been shut down, my growth as a writer has been stagnating somewhat. In addition to not having that outlet (and the instant access to all the new author friends I made over those few years), I’ve started wondering if I should be trying a different storytelling medium all together. I’ve been thinking that, if I can’t find the words I need to express myself, maybe I should be attempting to tell my stories in a more visual manner.

So I tried writing my first screenplay for what would be a short film, if I ever decided to actually shoot it.

It wasn’t the greatest thing ever, but I don’t think it was terrible either, so that’s something!

The best part is, if I ever shot it, I would let the actors have some leeway with the dialogue and such (and the director – I don’t think I’d be a very good director, as I’ve said, I lack leadership skills), and they could potentially bring more of my idea alive than I am able to with words alone. And that’s pretty exciting to me.

I always have tons of idea rattling around in my mind, hence part of the reason I decided to start this blog. To express myself better than I have been. I’ve said for a long time that my autobiography would be titled, “Great Idea, Poor Execution”, because I have a good thinking brain, but lack the skills required to express my thoughts adequately. Or even, in many cases, in a way which other people can understand. It’s frustrating for me, and no doubt unknowingly frustrating for you, because I could have solved so many of the world’s problems by now – and be rich and invite you to parties and such to hang out with me and all the animals I’d live with – if I could have just expressed myself better all this time! Haha

I should probably re-phrase the whole statement about me being a terrible writer – I think it’s more that I’m just…juvenile? Simple? I can’t even think of the word I’m looking for to describe myself. Geez! However, I’ve toyed with the idea of writing books for adults who read at a lower level, or for whom English is not their first language, etc. Because the story idea can be okay for adults or young adults – albeit uncomplicated – but the language is more for elementary school readers. I remember tutoring Grade 8 students in reading when I was in University – they were mostly all reading at a Grade 3 level or below, and the stuff we had to work with to teach them was pretty boring. I mean, I enjoy the occasional caterpillar story, but to those in their early their teen years, it didn’t exactly hold their interest, let alone spark imagination and a love of reading. So maybe my stories would do better with an audience who is interested in something they can relate to, but that is written in an easier to digest language. How cool would it be to help turn a reluctant reader into someone who actually chooses to pick up a book, rather than having to read one for a class?

I also kind of want to try out the graphic novel format someday, but I have zero skills with the visual arts, so that would be more of a collaboration. Again, though, it is a more visual medium, and if I could find someone to help me express what I see inside my head, I think it could be pretty awesome.

Photography is also a visual medium, and I have an idea about a book that tells a story and uses photos I take, but I really don’t feel like that’s something I’d be very successful at, either. I see lots of things, and can envision how I want a photo to look, but it rarely turns out that way in actuality. I’ve never taken a class or had a very good camera, and really, I take most of my photos on my phone now, because it’s always on me. I used to wish I had a good camera that I could somehow just carry around with me everywhere and be ready to snap something at a moment’s notice. I’d imagine what an amazing photographer I’d be if I could blink and take a picture of what I saw, as I saw it. Bionic camera eyes, anyone? Maybe someday.

If there’s one thing I have learned, though, it’s that nothing comes easy. If it’s worth doing, it takes work to do it well. Unless you’re one of those annoying child prodigy types. Is 43 too old to be a child prodigy? Why do I keep wanting to type progidy??

And that’s another reason for this blog. To practice. It won’t necessarily make my writing better, nor will I definitely be able to express myself better as I go along, but it absolutely will not hurt. I need to keep trying, keep writing, keep experimenting, and keep learning. Maybe none of my ideas will come to fruition, or if they do, maybe none of them will turn out as amazing as I’d envisioned. But for sure nothing will happen if I do nothing, and writing it down is probably a good first step.

Especially given that my memory is so bad lately.

Too Many Side Projects, Not Enough Side

It’s difficult to get anything done when you watch as much TV as I do.  A fair point, and one I’ll readily admit to.  I like my TV friends, though, and definitely require some downtime every day.  Some days more than others, but always as much as I can, because it just never seems to be enough, no matter what.

However, such downtime also gives my brain a chance to work on things while I’m not paying  attention, and the damned thing keeps coming  up with ideas.  Sometimes even ones that seem pretty good!

So, as I sit here watching stuff from my PVR, here’s a breakdown of some of the things I’m trying to work on these days:

  • this blog.  A post a day for a year is the intent/goal, so technically this counts as multi-tasking, right?
  • cut and post clips from 2014’s Guinness World Record attempt on the special YouTube channel I set up for it – and try to keep my poor old computer working long enough to get through it
  • work on setting up more interviews and other opportunities for The Mind Reels
  • continue processing rounds for the Reelie  Awards and work on how the actual awards show will go
  • finish crafting pitch to tun an unpublished novel into a TV series – for pitching practice
  • work on more crafts to sell through my Etsy shop, and promote the shop online
  • solve puzzles and mysteries contained in my first shipment from the Mysterious Package Company (okay, is one is more for fun)
  • make notes for possible children’s picture book I thought of this morning
  • work on a time-consuming yet awesome surprise for someone who may or may not read this, so I won’t say more here
  • get help making a sweet Halloween costume for Brody
  • send GWR codes to guests so they can order copies of the official Certificate of Participation, if they wish

And, you know, chores around the apartment, spend quality time with the critters I live with, go to the zoo, keep up with appointments, transfer more stuff from my iPhone to my Android phone, and nurse this stupid head/sinus cold so that it hopefully goes away quickly.

I should get started on some of that, but I also need to keep my PVR clear for new recordings. So maybe I’ll do a bit more work later.  Hopefully, my brain won’t come up with anything else before then!

Making An Attempt

Cover Photo

I keep thinking that, had I known ahead of time that I’d have to do most of the work involved with making my Guinness World Record attempt by myself, that I would have done a better job. I would have taken on each facet of the attempt head on from the beginning, instead of thinking someone else was taking care of certain aspects, and then having to scramble late in the game when I found out that wasn’t the case. I feel like I accomplished a lot, and ultimately the attempt itself was successful, but I’ve always been kind of disappointed in myself for not trying harder to make the event more of what I’d envisioned in the beginning. I’m still – more than a year later – trying to get the footage posted online, and the fact that I’m having to use the back-up footage with it’s crappy sound quality is a constant source of frustration and regret. Just – for example.

I go back over it all in my head, and make vague plans for “next time”, how I’ll do it bigger and better, and basically blow myself away with my ingenuity and creativity.

There is, of course, another possible outcome to finding out that I am doing something alone. It’s possible that I just won’t do it at all.

That’s where constant nagging self-doubt comes into play. When I didn’t know I’d have to do something alone, but was too stubborn to admit defeat, I can usually accomplish what I set out to do, or at least a stripped-down yet still acceptable version of it. If I know ahead of time that it’s all me, though, then the stubbornness doesn’t have a chance to kick in. Because I don’t set my mind to it yet.

Retrospect tells me I could have done something on my own, but looking ahead – it’s not that I see failure, exactly. It’s more like I don’t see anything at all.

Which is weird, because if we take my amazing idea for a themed bar as an example, I’ve been thinking up the steps to take to make it happen, how it will run, and how it will keep drawing customers. But all of it, in my head, involves a team. Even though the whole thing just exists in my head – and my head alone – it comes with an imaginary team of individuals who help along the way. One of those I-couldn’t-have-done-it-without-you things. Only I haven’t done it. I haven’t done anything but think about it. And even my thinking about it involves other people. Just not the thoughts of, nor input from, other people. Haha

So, I guess my thing is this: I can conceive of things without help, I can retroactively see how to have done it without help, yet I can’t seem to translate that into any sort of sense that I can actually do anything without help.

Or maybe I just don’t want to. Who wants to do everything alone, really? Also, I have trouble delegating, because it’s often easier for me to just do something than to explain to someone else how to do it…though that may be a product of my work environment for the past 15 years, now that I think about it. But maybe despite all that, I still long for a team to take part in my vision, and to share in its outcome with me. To make the seed of an idea in my head grow into something we can all be proud of, together.

It’s like my head wants to work as a team, but I can’t make my reality translate that desire into a functional outcome. It’s a push-me, pull-you battle inside me, all the time. I really want to do something – and then remind myself that I can’t. I start and stop a project internally, and nothing ever actually happens outside of my brain. And that’s ridiculous.

I’m a strong believer in balance, in trying to find balance in my daily life. Though, on a physical level, I have terrible balance. And I’m afraid of heights. I can’t even walk across a bridge in a video game without falling off. It’s humiliating yet hilarious.

Anyway, maybe there’s a balance to be sought here, too. Maybe there’s a way for me to take the first step or two on my own, and use that progress (assuming I make any…let’s call it the initial manifestation of my personal think-tank, the physical outline of my idea, instead of ‘progress’) to begin putting my dream team together. Even if it just leads to a brainstorming session with a couple of people, which opens up other ideas and questions to add to the list, that still has to be better than brainstorming with myself, doesn’t it?

And then those actual people might take a more vested interest in the whole project, because they will be involved from the beginning. Of course, everyone was involved from the beginning of the Guinness attempt, but at the same time, once we’d had an initial meeting about it, everyone kind of went their own ways, and we didn’t reconvene until it was way too late. I assumed things were happening, but I should have checked in more often just to keep everyone on point. You live, you learn. And I really did learn a lot. So hopefully if and when I do something like that again, I’ll be far better equipped to make it a success.

First, though, I might have to dip my toe into the waters of this themed bar idea.

Just in case.

Beginnings

11805976_10155857954055402_1124079985_n

Actually, this isn’t really a beginning at all.  More a gathering, and a continuation.  So already I’m off to a terrible start.  Or non-start.

Anyway.

I’m Sue, and this is an Inventory Of Everything me-ish.  I’ve gotten to a point where I feel like so many different facets of me are spread across the internet that I can’t keep any of them current for long.  So I decided to create this one huge catch-all blog for all of my stuff-ses, so that even when I post in one specific place, anyone will still be able to come here and find it all compiled together.

We are more than the sum of our parts, I think.

And as this is a whole new year, I’ve decided to try something new and write something, create something, say something – every single day.  For a year.  And after that we’ll see.  But it’s important to do things – to get out of my head – and just because all of the things I do aren’t easily classified into one of the categories I’ve created over the years, I find I’ve been neglecting them.

So now this can be one big category into which I can add anything and everything.  So long as I continue to add.  It’ll be random, and chaotic, and boring, and fun, and informative, and whiny, and triumphant and a host of other things.  It’ll be anything it is.  Anything I am.

An Inventory Of Everything.